As efforts to launch 5G services ramp up in the UK, Vodafone has announced that it is extending its high-speed 5G network to the Isles of Scilly from next month.
With a population of 2,203, the Isles of Scilly, which lie 45 kilometres off the coast of Cornwall, may seem an unlikely location for Vodafone’s 5G rollout. However, the telecoms company has announced that it will be included in plans to extend its 5G network.
Some critics have argued that the rollout of 5G could create a communication divide between urban and rural areas, with initial 5G coverage largely confined to cities. According to Ofcom, only 41% of buildings in rural areas have 4G coverage, with some doubtful whether the necessary infrastructure for 5G will make its way to areas beyond major cities and towns.
However, according to Vodafone, the high speed offered by 5G could help boost tourism on the island by enabling local businesses to show high-definition videos and 3D-images of the islands’ attractions, and will also allow schools and medical facilities to connect more easily with the mainland.
From July, Vodafone customers and businesses will be able to access 5G in seven cities across the UK as well as the Isles of Scilly. Within a year, an additional 12 locations will receive 5G, as well as 5G roaming during the summer.
As part of the 5G launch, Vodafone has also signed a two-year 5G sponsorship agreement with St Mary’s Association Football Club, managers of the smallest football league in the world, the Isles of Scilly Football League.
This will see the launch of the first ever crowd-sourced fan-assisted referee (FAR) system later this year, which will allow fans of the two teams in the league to instantly have a say on decisions during games thanks to 5G.
This will make the Scilly football league the world’s first 5G-connected league.
Vodafone UK chief technology officer Scott Petty said:
“5G is a game-changer for the Isles of Scilly as it will provide the local community with much improved access to important online services. I’m also delighted that Vodafone is teaming up with the local football club, which brings people together, and by combining it with our technology, we can promote this wonderful archipelago on the world stage.”